United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed alarm over what he describes as a “dramatic escalation of violence” in Syria in recent days.
Ban said in a written statement there had been reports of mass killings of civilians in the village of Aqrab near Hama, as well as alleged firing of long-range missiles in some areas.
The statement said reports of aerial bombing on December 16, resulting in many casualties among Palestinians at a refugee camp in Damascus, were a “grave" concern.
The statement reminded government forces and rebel fighters that targeting civilians is a war crime.
Earlier, Syrian Vice President Faruq al-Sharaa was quoted by a Lebanese newspaper as saying neither the forces of President Bashar al-Assad nor opposition fighters seemed capable of winning the civil war.
Sharaa told the Lebanese newspaper "Al-Akhbar" that the situation in Syria was heading from bad to worse.
He said a "historic settlement," involving the formation of a national unity government, was needed.
His comments were revealed as at least eight people were reported killed on December 16 when Syrian government fighter jets bombed a camp of Palestinian refugees in Damascus, around where rebel fighters have been advancing.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, meanwhile, said "the end is nearing" for Assad's regime.
Fabius said on French radio that "even the Russians," the Syrian government’s longtime ally, were considering the end of the regime.
With reporting by Reuters and AP